05 August 2020

Codes unite as new SFS ‘comes out of the ground’

Sporting greats Graham Arnold (Football), Brad Fittler (Rugby League) and Phil Waugh (Rugby Union) joined acting NSW Minister for Sport, The Hon. Geoff Lee, at the site of the new Sydney Football Stadium as above-the-ground construction commenced today (Wednesday August 4).

After many months of demolition and groundworks, more than 150 cubic metres of concrete were poured today, marking a major milestone in the timeline of the redevelopment project. 

Fortunate enough to have been largely unaffected by the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Minister Lee confirmed that work is progressing ‘on track’ to scheduled dates of the construction.

“The new Sydney Football Stadium will be a world-class stadium, 42,500 seats, ready for the 2022 NRL Grand Final,” Mr Lee said.

“Today is an important day because we’re actually building the stadium – we’re coming out of the ground.

“You can see so many people here on the ground working today. John Holland have done a remarkable job, COVID hasn’t slowed it down. They’re on track, they’re making it happen for the whole community.”

To mark the occasion Arnold, Fittler and Waugh laced their boots and set footprints into cement at the site, forever etching their place into the history of the construction of the new SFS.

Roosters and NSW Blues Origin legend Fittler looked back to look forward, recollecting his favourite memories of the former stadium.

“I have mixed emotions – I got beat in a grand final here, won grand finals here, State of Origins… I remember watching [NSW Origin centre] Michael O’Connor kick a goal from the sideline here,” Fittler reminisced.

“I also remember watching U2 in the pouring rain… it was one of the coolest moments I’ve ever been a part of. But I think we’re going to have a fantastic new stadium, one worthy of one of the greatest cities in the world.

“I can’t wait to be a part of some new memories going forward. It was such a beautiful place to play, I coached here as well. I’m sure that when the new one is built, there’ll be some more great memories to come." 

Waugh ­– a Waratahs and Wallabies great, now a member-elected Trustee of the Sydney Cricket Ground – said his memories of the old SFS extended back well before his playing days. 

“My first memory of the old stadium, I actually was the ball-boy for the first Rugby Test against the British and Irish Lions in 1989. I had the dream of going on to play for the Waratahs and the Wallabies here,” Waugh said.

“One of the great things about Rugby is you get to play all over the world, but this stadium and this precinct was still one of my favourites.

“It’s very exciting, we’re right in the middle of Sydney, right next to the SCG. This will become one of the great sporting stadiums in the world.”

Former national striker, ex-Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC coach and current Socceroos mentor Graham Arnold cast his mind back to 1993 clash between Australia and Diego Maradona’s Argentina.

“Football had a great tradition here; the Socceroos had some great results. Probably one of the most famous games here was that one against Argentina and the great night we experienced with that,” Arnold said.

“We look forward to all the great memories ahead for football in this great stadium.”